Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner
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Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

My go-to Macaroni and Cheese has evolved over the last year, but I have a new favorite – and of course, it uses the pressure cooker. 1

For years I made the mac and cheese from Pam Anderson’s The Perfect Recipe. Then I read Ideas in Food; their recipe was similar to Pam’s, stripped down to the basics.

Both recipes use evaporated milk as their secret weapon. Evaporated milk replaces the flour and milk béchamel sauce, and all the whisking that entails. I mashed the two recipes together, and that’s what I’ve been using ever since.

Now, even with the evaporated milk shortcut, this was a stretch to make on a weeknight. Especially if I want a toasted bread crumb topping. And if I’m making macaroni and cheese, it must have a bread crumb topping.

That’s why I jumped when I saw the pressure cooker macaroni and cheese in Pressure Cooker Perfection. They pressure cook the pasta and spices in a small amount of water, treating it like a risotto. This trick really speeds up the recipe – no waiting for a pot of water to boil, no draining, and one (pressure cooker) pot to clean. Weeknight macaroni and cheese is now within my reach. 2

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Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


Pressure Cooker mac and cheese – quick, easy, and better than the dreaded blue box.

Adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection


  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 16 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded Parmigiano cheese

Bread Crumb Topping (optional)

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


  1. Pressure cook the pasta for 4 minutes with a quick release: Stir the macaroni, butter, mustard, hot pepper sauce, salt, and 4 cups water in the pressure cooker pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes in an electric PC or stovetop PC. (For an Instant Pot, use Manual or Pressure Cook mode, and set the time to 4 minutes.) When the cooking time is done, quick release the pressure and remove the lid.
  2. Stir in the evaporated milk and cheese: Turn the heat under the pot down to low (or turn the electric pressure cooker to sauté-low or keep warm mode), and stir in the evaporated milk. Test a piece of pasta by taking a bite – it should be al dente, but cooked through. If the pasta is still tough in the middle, simmer it for a few minutes, until it is tender. Stir in the cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the current handful to melt before adding the next handful.
  3. Top with breadcrumbs and broil: Optional step, if you like a toasted bread crumb topping: Pour the macaroni into a 3 quart broiler-safe dish, patting it down to level out the surface. Sprinkle the panko over the macaroni and cheese in an even layer. Broil the macaroni and cheese on high until the bread crumbs are toasted, about 5 minutes. Check the bread crumbs often – they go from pale brown to burnt in a flash.


4 cups of water is just enough to cook 1 pound (16 ounces) of pasta. No draining is necessary; the water will be absorbed by the pasta. If you have a smaller box of pasta – 12 ounces and 13.25 ounces are common sizes of whole wheat pasta – cut the water back to 3 cups. (Everything else can stay the same.)

Serve with a bottle of hot sauce at the table. I like Frank’s Red Hot or the smoky flavor of chipotle hot sauce.

I have burned a lot of bread crumbs in my day. I set a timer for 1 minute intervals while I’m broiling, in case I get distracted. (By a homework meltdown…just to pick a hypothetical example). I have the timer to remind me – “Oh no! The breadcrumbs!”


6 quart or larger pressure cooker (That’s a Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker in the pictures, in the video I use my beloved 6 quart Instant Pot)

  • Category: Weeknight Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker, Macaroni and Cheese, Macaroni, Cheese, Recipe

Collage of images showing the steps to make mac and cheese in a pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Tower

Video: How to make Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese (5:13)

Video: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese []

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Sherry says

    I just got my Instant Pot today, and this was the first thing I tried. It’s incredible! I did leave out the hot sauce and skipped the crumb topping, since I think my daughter wouldn’t like it. Just a question, have you ever tried doubling this recipe in the 6 quart Instant Pot? If so, is the cooking time the same and all ingredients (including the water) exactly double? Thanks.

    • I haven’t tried to download unless it, but it do think it will work by doubling all the ingredients and leaving the time the same.

  2. KellieT says

    I love Mac ‘n cheese but boy it can be a real production to make–with making the sauce, boiling the macaroni, and baking. This was sooo much easier and very very tasty!! I even broke out the Marie Sharp hot sauce (which I have been rationing as I’m almost out of) for this. Thank you for the terrific recipe!

  3. Patty says

    Thank you for posting this! I normally only make mac and cheese a few times a year because I detest stirring the base sauce for so long. Never thought of using my pressure cooker until I stumbled upon this. I used my large stovetop size, doubled your recipe, and it turned out fantastic. And oh goodness, SOOOOOooooo much easier!

  4. Darlene says

    I’ve made this several times just as the Recipe states & by adding some other variations of my own. I love how the mac & cheese is thick. My husband is a big fan of this recipe. Top notch! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Christina says

    Wowza. Surly 5 year old who EATS NOTHING but rare steak and baked potatoes (she was an investment banker in a previous life) just killed a whole bowl. Cruising for seconds. I need to sit down.

  6. Yes, I need twice as much Mac and cheese! I’m feeding a small army! Are ALL ingredients doubled?

  7. Hello! I have a ten quart elite pressure cooker (electric). I really want to try your recipe, but I would need to double it. Would I double ALL the ingredients, liquid and all? Would the cooking time change? If anyone has tried to double this, I’d appreciate your input. Thanks!

    • PS: you don’t have to double this recipe for it to work in the 10 quart PC. Only double it if you need twice as much Mac and cheese.

      • melody says

        We have a lot of macncheese eaters at our house, so I need to double it! I’m glad I looked through the comments. We have an 8qt instant pot and I’m still learning it. So, double the pasta and the water, but use the SAME cooking time of 4 minutes? Crazy! I’ll trust you…And I’ll try to remember to report back.

  8. kristy says

    What button do you push on the electric pc to “simmer” if the macaroni isn’t al dente? Thanks.

    • It depends on what brand of electric PC you have – check the manual. For my instant pot, it is the “sauté” button, and for my cuisinart there is a “simmer” setting.

  9. Jonathan says

    Dude – this is the BEST Mac and Cheese I have ever eaten! Very easy to make, though my pressure cooker took a bit longer than the 4 minutes (wasn’t quite al dente after 5….so I put it back under pressure for 2 more minutes (total 7) and it was perfection! Thank you!

  10. Kyla says

    Has anyone made this with gluten free pasta? If so, did it turn out well. Thanks!!

    • Maureen says

      Yes! Used Barilla Gluten free elbows and didn’t change anything. Worked well.

      • Carla says

        yay! thank you! DH hates mac and cheese and my boys love it so I wanted to make it tonight for supper. Adding some summer sausage.

  11. Martin says

    This is the best mac and cheese recipe we have used for our pressure cooker. The two boys devoured their plates after a long day playing outside. Grandparents also really enjoyed it. Legend

  12. Sarah says

    This was a hit! I used veggie elbow macaroni and it turned out great! I love that I don’t have to drain the pasta.. One less dish to wash!

  13. Jamie says

    Has anyone tried with whole wheat noodles? Would you increase cooking time a bit?

      • christine z says

        I just used no yolk whole wheat egg white noodles tonight – FANTASTIC texture!
        I will say the cheddar cheese made it gritty – won’t do that again, but the taste sure made up for it!

  14. Ruby T says

    I recently purchased a pressure cooker with a cookbook. The cooker is great and so are most of the recipes, except the mac and cheese. The recipe is designed so everything can just be dumped into the pressure cooker at once, so the recipe calls for twelve slices of American cheese.The resulting dish was simply disgusting. All I could taste was the American cheese (one slice on a cheeseburger is okay, but twelve slices in a dish – UGH!!!). I tried adding different ingredients but there was nothing to cover the taste. I had to throw it out. Your recipe, on the other hand, is terrific! I changed the hot sauce to Worcestershire sauce. This is a great dish and very easy. Thank you!

  15. KimD says

    Tried this tonight. While it did take only a half an hour, it wasn’t al dente, it was squishy. I might try modifying it a bit, cook less, leave out the parm so my son will eat it. Hopefully I can salvage what’s left so my family will eat it.

  16. Sandra says

    Great recipe!! Simple and delicious and the whole family loved it! Thanks for posting!! Pressure cookers are life savers 🙂

  17. Alice says

    This is a delicious recipe, but a word of warning. When I vented my cooker, it erupted like a volcano, with liquid flying out the top all over the place. Guess I should have seen that coming, since the pasta went in dry and cooked with all its glorious starchiness. Next time, I’ll have a kitchen towel ready to throw over the top.

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